[Please welcome once again the incredible Alec Niedenthal, our to-be next Giant, herein talking language in a quite incredible Facebook-based interview with Rudy Wilson. Enjoy. – BB]
I have Blake’s original post on the book, and Peter Markus’s write-up on the same, to thank for running me into Rudy Wilson’s masterful and wildly original The Red Truck. Or, I guess, for running The Red Truck into me. If I’m remembering right, after one or two editions on Knopf, The Red Truck stayed out of print until Ravenna Press reprinted it earlier this year alongside Wilson’s new collection, Sonja’s Blue. The Red Truck is Lish-edited. Lish cut about two-hundred pages out of the book and carve(re)d the sentences to his liking. Blah blah blah. The result–though I’m quite confident that the original manuscript has the same beating heart–is haunting, colorful, relentlessly strange; The Red Truck has a light and sinister southern music very much its own. This kind of writing, to me, counteracts the sordid history of the South; it is evil confronted by the sleeping noise of a brain-fucked boy (though a girl does eventually narrate, there is really no differentiation between voices), by the rhythm of his throat. Not dissimilar to Peter Markus’s boy-based songs, The Red Truck is the record of a boy shrouding violence in his sound.
Very excited last night by an email from Peter Markus, who mentioned that the long-difficult-to-drum-up novel The Red Truck by Rudy Wilson has just been reprinted by Ravenna Press, along with another new book by Mr. Wilson. I seriously almost paid a heftier tag a week or two ago when I was about to buy the original version on Amazon used, but now the always excellent Ravenna has solved that problem.
If you haven’t read Rudy Wilson before, via this novel or in issues of Unsaid or elsewhere, here’s Peter on why this means you should be excited too:
The Red Truck is one of those late-80s Knopf books edited by Lish that I found remaindered one day in some TV appliance-warehouse-turned-bookshop that is now a place that sells tires. I took it home and immediately could feel the sensation of something new running through my hands. I think it’s a brilliant book, a one of a kind book, a book that wouldn’t have been made into a book had it not found its way into Gordon’s hands. I think the story goes behind it that Lish cut the manuscript in half (sort of what he did to Barry Hannah’s revved up Ray). I suspect what Lish did was find the core of Rudy’s Red Truck and cut away much of what a much younger Wilson thought was needed to hold the story together. For me it’s a novel that is pure hallucination and is the kind of book that I return to again and again in order to recapture that initial rush that language in its purest, most musical form can offer to us. Each time that I do Rudy’s sentences unglue me and then put me back together in new ways. I let my sister read The Red Truck, some years ago, and when she did she ended up having a major seizure. The effect that the book had on my sis is what we all want from our work: sentences that take hold of the brain and seize it up, unhinge us from the world around us, and make the body of us do some fucked-up sort of pogo to a music that Wilson’s song makes us hear inside our own heads. The Red Truck by Rudy Wilson is the realest of deals. You can get it now from Ravenna Press along with a brand new book of short fiction by Wilson called Sonja’s Blues. And while you’re loitering around at the Ravenna website, do yourself a third favor and nab Norman Lock’s The Long Rowing Unto Morning, an equally dreamy and necessary book. Thanks for listening.
You can pick up the book, also available in a package deal with Wilson’s Sonja’s Blue, now from Ravenna Press.
Now we just need all those other Knopf gems to get the same treatment…